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One in five Net users in the US wants the opportunity to make cheap calls over the Internet.

Even though demand for VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) mainly focuses on cheap calls, punters also want other bolt-on features such as caller ID, voicemail, battery back-up, and call waiting, according to a survey of 1,200 US Net users by Ipsos-Insight.

Analysts reckon that VoIP providers entering the market need to offer these "must-have" services if they are to stand out from the increasing large crowd of Internet telephony providers.

This is especially true since half of those quizzed said they thought their telephone company would be the best provider for VoIP, while a third said ISPs would be best placed to offer the service.

Said Lynne Bartos, Senior VP at US-based Ipsos-Insight: "The cost savings proposition of VoIP will play a major role in drawing new subscribers into trying out Internet-based phone service.

"This applies primarily to those with high phone bills. People who spend over $40 a month on their calls are more than twice as likely try to VoIP. Right now, it looks like telephone companies would have the advantage when it comes the ability to capture VoIP market share.

"Until consumers become more savvy about VoIP technology and services, most will naturally turn to familiar providers of telephone service, even if the service is Internet-based," she said. ®

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